Connections: Persian Rugs and Morton Feldman’s music [study]


Does listening to Morton Feldman’s ‘Crippled Symmetry’ suite (above) remind you of a Persian rug? If not, you may not be attuned to Feldman’s repetitions and variations – which, on closer inspection, may, it’s said, in some senses, resonate with patterns on rugs. But, academically speaking, possible common threads have not been studied in much detail – until now.

“Repetition and variation are the main strategies in Feldman’s music. These are the features he extracted from observation of a rug design and connected Oriental weaving rug pattern to Western music notation, which are rarely studied by researchers.”

– explain A.A. Javadi, M. Fujieda of the Faculty of Design, Kyushu University, Japan in a paper for the International Journal of Music Science, Technology and Art (IJMSTA) – Vol. 2 – Issue 1 – January 2020

The researchers asked themselves :

“Are the elements and principles in music (repetition and rhythm) related to the same elements and principles in weaving Persian rug design?”

And, to find out, the team performed a close reading of several rugs (see illustration below) making comparisons with Feldman’s music (e.g.‘Crippled Symmetry’) – and conclude that, yes, they are.

“Our studies reveal the relationship between repetition and symmetry in both the pattern of Persian rugs and the Feldman musical approach in his composition.”

See : A Study on the Rug Patterns and Morton Feldman’s Approach

Research research by Martin Gardiner